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Panthers center Barkov to return against Jets

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

PANTHERS (20-11-9) at JETS (21-14-8)

TV: FS-F, TSN3

WINNIPEG – The Florida Panthers look to make a strong road trip even more successful when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

The Panthers are 4-1-0 on their six-game trip. Their three-game winning streak is their longest of the season.

"There is no second-guessing among players," Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said of first-year coach Gerard Gallant and the success that the Panthers have had lately. "We know how we need to play, how hard and what he wants us to play like."

Gallant will have center Aleksander Barkov back in the lineup Tuesday. Barkov has missed the past two games because of the flu. Center Brandon Pirri will come out of the Florida lineup.

Barkov could provide a boost to a team that has not played at home since Dec. 31, and is winding down a trip that began against the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 2, continued to Western Canada and wraps up in Winnipeg.

"The [past] game in Edmonton, we talked about [the schedule]," Gallant said. "The first four games were a 10-game trip, and now we've extended the trip to six games. We just have to make sure that we're ready to play."

The Jets return home for one game after a 1-1-1 road trip through the Pacific Division. After facing the Panthers, the Jets will begin a two-game road trip against the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Winnipeg is in a stretch of seven games in 11 days.

"You can get away with feeling like you don't have great jump in your legs as long as the brain is still going," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of the schedule. "The simpler the game has to become. When the brain starts getting a little fatigued, and that's our fear, our concern is that Florida plays well defensively and they're not going to give you an easy game. Mentally, that is where you have to be sharp because you're going to want to take an easier route."

The Jets also will be looking to re-establish the defensive game that had placed them fourth in the NHL in goals-against per game at the start of January before they allowed 12 goals on the three-game road trip. Winnipeg lost a 3-0 lead against the Los Angeles Kings in a 5-4 shootout win Jan. 10 and two two-goal leads against the Anaheim Ducks in a 5-4 shootout loss on Jan. 11.

"Florida is an extremely solid defensive team," Jets defenseman Jay Harrison said. "They play really well without the puck. They frustrate teams, clog up the neutral zone. It's going to take a patient game, but a fast game as well in order to generate opportunities against them because they're very solid defensively."

Gallant will start goaltender Roberto Luongo for the fifth time in the past six games. Maurice will counter with rookie Michael Hutchinson.

Here are the projected lineups:

PANTHERS

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Jimmy Hayes

Sean Bergenheim - Dave Bolland - Tomas Fleischmann

Tomas Kopecky - Derek MacKenzie - Scottie Upshall

Aaron Ekblad - Brian Campbell

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Willie Mitchell - Dmitry Kulikov

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Scratched: Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck

Injured: Shawn Thornton (lower body)

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Zach Bogosian

Mark Stuart - Jay Harrison

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: TJ Galiardi, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Jacob Trouba (upper body)

Status report: Thornton, who has missed the past 15 games because of a lower-body injury, participated in the morning skate. He is not expected to dress for the game, however…Little did not participate in the morning skate, but will play, Maurice said.

Who's hot: Twenty different Florida players have at least one point on the road trip…Ladd has a six-game points streak (four goals, four assists); his career-high is seven games.

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